Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Nasturtiums 1, Aphids 0

20150204In organic gardening books and web pages, the nasturtium (Tropaeoleum majus) is often recommended as a companion plant to repel aphids. But that advice may do more harm than good if it stops there: it’s as if the author forgot to finish the sentence.

The nasturtium is actually what is known as a trap crop… it doesn’t repel aphids, it attracts them! So if you plant it as a companion plant, it will not solve your aphid problem, but may in fact worsen it, because once the aphids move into the nasturtium, they may make the jump to neighboring plants, especially if there are ants in the sector, as ants feed on aphid honeydew and literally farm them. They won’t hesitate to carry aphids to other plants to help them move onto “greener pastures”.

The end of the afore-mentioned sentence is: … “and when you see aphids on the nasturtium, pull it out and destroy it to crush the infestation in the bud”.

It’s so simple, but you still have to do it.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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